5 Games to Play on Your Next Family Roadtrip

With just a month or so of summer vacation left, many families are hitting the open road. With airline costs as high as they are, road trips are one of the best ways to explore new parts of the country and get away for awhile. Yet as anyone who has ever taken a road trip with kids knows, it pays to be prepared.

That means planning your route, packing the essentials, and coming up with car entertainment ideas. So we thought we’d take the time to share some road trip games you and your family can play on your next road trip:

I Spy

It’s probably the most popular car game, but that’s because kids and families love it. It’s especially great for small children who are learning the fundamentals of spelling. Play by picking an object, saying “I spy with my little eye something that starts with the letter…”, and naming the letter your object’s word starts with. Other players look around and guess what you see. The first person to guess the correct object wins and the next player can take his or her turn.

The Alphabet Game

The alphabet game is another great game for young spellers. The objective is to work as a team to find every letter (in alphabetical order) on the billboards, signs, and license plates outside your windows. When someone sees an ‘A’ they call it out and name where they saw it. When someone says a ‘B’…same thing. Repeat until you finish the whole alphabet.

Name that Tune

A favorite of musical and non-musical families alike, ‘Name That Tune’ is another classic game for passing time. Each person gets a chance to hum or whistle a favorite song while the rest of the car guesses which song it is. Whoever guesses wins the turn. Keep track of who wins the most turns to identify the overall winner. While this is a fun one for all the singers out there, it’s often even more fun to guess the tune when the hummer or whistler is a little bit tone deaf.

20 Questions

If you’re traveling with older children, 20 Questions might be the road game for you. To play, one person thinks of something – it can be a person, place, item, or anything really. Then, the other passengers get to ask 20 yes or no questions to try to identify what the person is thinking of. It’s wise for the “questioners” to start asking broad questions and work their way to more specific questions. For example, if I’m thinking about an apple, the first question I’m asked might be, “is it a person?” and I would say no. Then, I might be asked, “is it a thing?” and I would say yes. They would probably then try to figure out what type of thing it was, narrow it down to a fruit, and then try to guess what kind of fruit it is. Once the “questioners” are ready to guess, they get three chances. If they guess it correctly, they win. If they guess it incorrectly, the person thinking of the object wins.

The Picnic Game

The Picnic Game is legendary for its ability to test the short term memory of its players. To play, the first player says “I’m going to a picnic and I’m going to bring…” and names something he or she is going to bring that starts with ‘A.’ Let’s say, apples. Then, the second player says “I’m going to a picnic and I’m going to bring apples and …” and names something that starts with ‘B’, let’s say berries. The third player then says “I’m going to a picnic and I’m going to bring apples, berries…” and names something that starts with ‘C.’ You get the idea…you go around in a circle with each player naming what he or she is going to bring until someone messes up or you reach ‘Z.’


These are just some of the many road trip games we remember playing in the car as kids. What are your favorite games? Are there some your kids particularly like? Please share in the comments section below.

Image by Ben Francis via flickr, licensed under CC by 2.0


  1. Jedsays:

    One of our favorite car game/distraction for the kids were puppets. The kids used the hand puppets for the amusement of other cars. They’d duck down and use the Windows for “the stage” Always great fun listening to dialog.

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